The U.S. is repositioning an amphibious warship closer to Iraq as the ongoing conflict between Iraqi security forces and sectarian forces intensifies, a defense official told USNI News on Monday.
USS Mesa Verde (LPD-19) is in the 5th fleet area of operations and will be moving into the Persian Gulf later today, USNI News has learned.
The ship is embarked with about 550 Marines, two LCAC landing hovercraft and five MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, the defense official said.
“She is going to the Arabian Gulf today. She’s going through strait today,” the official said.
Mesa Verde’s arrival will bring the U.S. ship total in the region to four — along with aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), guided missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG-58) and the guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun (DDG-103).
Bush and the other two ships entered the gulf on Saturday, according to an announcement from the Navy.
The ship movements follow the increased level of violence of the Sunni insurgents of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that has pushed further south into Iraq.
“It’s always prudent for us to respond to any situation,” the official said.
Mesa Verde is part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) that embarked in February with the 22 Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). The ARG is composed of Mesa Verde, USS Gunston Hall (LSD-44) and USS Bataan (LHD-5).
Bataan is currently in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.